Rachel Daly revealed her pre-match premonition about England team-mate Lauren James came true on Tuesday night after the Chelsea prodigy scored twice and picked up three assists in the 6-1 victory over China at the World Cup.

James, 21, became the first England player of either gender to be directly involved in five or more goals in a World Cup match as the Lionesses clinched top of group D to set up a last-16 meeting with Nigeria in Brisbane on Monday.

Daly was one of five Lionesses who got their names on the scoresheet at Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium, where boss Sarina Wiegman switched to an inspired 3-5-2 system in the wake of an undisclosed knee injury to midfield maestro Keira Walsh.

Versatile Daly, who happily occupied an unfamiliar left wing-back role in the shake-up, said: “I will just say one thing, last night (Monday) we were walking round the pitch and we have come out of here and there’s the ‘player of the match’ sign as you walk out. I said: ‘Have a look at that kid, because that will be you tomorrow night’.

“That’s how much we back her! She is unbelievable. I have got no more words to say about her. She is growing and growing and the most important thing is we keep around her.

“She is a young player at the end of the day and she’s learning every day. She can pick up little bits from the older players, but she is LJ – and she’s brilliant.

“She has got great technical ability, but those (goals) come out in training all the time. It’s nothing new for us.

“Like I said the other day, it’s just nice for the rest of the world to see how good she is. ‘Cheat code’ as everyone is calling her. That’s what she is.”

England only scored once in each of their first two group-stage victories, first through Georgia Stanway’s penalty against Haiti before James netted six minutes into her first World Cup start, ultimately enough for three points against Denmark.

Tournament veteran Daly – who started every game of England’s European championship-winning campaign – had called for patience earlier in the week over concerns that the Lionesses were not living up to their world number four billing, particularly in attack against a Haiti side 49 places below them in FIFA’s world rankings.

Others joined her, often accompanying the call with a reminder that this was not the same squad that lifted the trophy at Wembley 367 days ago, following the retirements of Ellen White and Jill Scott and injuries to Beth Mead, Fran Kirby and Leah Williamson.

Walsh, who was also part of that triumph, remained at England base camp on Tuesday after it was determined she did not injure her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), though her status for the remainder of the tournament remains unclear.

Daly said: “I think obviously there has been a lot of criticism about us not being ruthless enough.

“I said we would grow into the games and it’s tournament football. It’s not about the first, second, third win, it’s how we grow into it.

“We knew it would come and that it would only be a matter of time before we scored goals – and there were some unbelievable goals on display (against China).

“I think (the formation change) is what tournament football is all about. We have got that in our locker now.

“We know that we can do that system and keep growing and working on that.

“We obviously can revert back to type with a 4-3-3. It’s another weapon in the armoury.”

Manuela Vanegas ripped up the script at the Women’s World Cup as her stoppage-time strike for Colombia condemned Germany to a shock 2-1 defeat.

Co-hosts New Zealand were knocked out of the tournament as they were held to a goalless draw by Switzerland, while Norway thrashed the Philippines 6-0 as Morocco edged out South Korea 1-0.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of today’s World Cup action.

Colombia stun Germany

Germany suffered their first World Cup group stage defeat since 1995 in dramatic fashion in Sydney.

Real Madrid teenager Linda Caicedo’s outstanding strike gave Colombia a 52nd-minute lead, but Germany thought they had rescued a draw when Alexandra Popp scored from the penalty spot in the 89th minute.

But Colombia shocked the two-time world champions when Vanegas headed in Leicy Santos’ corner deep into stoppage time.

It means Colombia need only a point from their final group game against Morocco to top the group, with Germany perhaps needing to beat South Korea to advance.

New Zealand go out

The World Cup lost the first of its two co-hosts on Sunday as a goalless draw for New Zealand was not enough in Group A.

The Football Ferns had recorded an historic first win over Norway on the opening night of the tournament, but the stalemate in Wellington saw Switzerland top the group, while New Zealand were left level on points with Norway.

And Norway had a vastly superior goal difference after finishing their group campaign with a 6-0 win over the Philippines, with Sophie Roman Haug scoring a hat-trick.

Benzina makes history

Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup as she helped Morocco to a 1-0 win over South Korea.

Benzina, 25, made her first appearance of the tournament in her side’s final group game, which Morocco won thanks to Ibtissam Jraidi’s sixth-minute header – the nation’s first-ever Women’s World Cup win.

FIFA authorised the wearing of head coverings for religious reasons in 2014.

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“There’s a lot of tears out there but they should be so proud, we fought really hard. There’s such disappointment but I want everyone to be proud of what we’ve achieved. I really think we’ve inspired the country. I hope little girls across New Zealand and the world now will start playing sport and feel they can achieve whatever they put their mind to” – New Zealand co-captain Ali Riley.

What’s up next

Group B: Canada v Australia (Melbourne, 11am)

Group B: Republic of Ireland v Nigeria (Brisbane, 11am)

Group C: Costa Rica v Zambia (Hamilton, 8am)

Group C: Japan v Spain (Wellington, 8am)

All times BST

Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Girls and Barbados Gems were both brave in defeat despite being outclassed by reigning champions New Zealand and England in their respective opening games at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday.

The number 10-ranked Calypso Girls, who were the first Caribbean team in action, went down 27-72 to number two-ranked New Zealand, while the 14-ranked Gems, succumbed to a 29-90 loss to number three-ranked England Roses.

Those results meant that both Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados will have to play catch up in their respective pools, if they are to make the top three to progress to the next round.

New Zealand head Pool D ahead of Uganda, who were 79-37 winners over Singapore, while England heads Pool B ahead Malawi, who registered a 55-49 win over Scotland.

Trinidad and Tobago, one of only three countries to win a World Cup title in the tournament’s history, knew they were always up against it against the Silver Ferns, but left their best on the court in restricting the champions to a score under 80.

Still, New Zealand were comfortable from the start going 23-2 in the opening quarter and 43-11 at half time, before asserting authority at the backend of the contest.

Grace Nweke scored a flawless 31 goals for New Zealand and Maia Wilson made 22 of 24 attempts, while Afeisha Noel and Joelisa Cooper, had 17 and 10 goals for Trinidad and Tobago.

The Calypso Girls are scheduled to face Singapore on Saturday at 11:00am Jamaica time.

Meanwhile, Barbados, despite the presence of experienced siblings Sasha and Kadeen Corbin, who both racked up over 70 caps for England before switching allegiance, struggled for consistency which proved their undoing against the Roses.

They Started positively by matching strides with, but a number of unforced errors paved the way for England to take command of the game at 20-8 going into the first interval and 42-18 at half time.

England rang the changes at the start of the third quarter and with Barbados being caught out by the long balls, it forced goal shooter Kadeen Corbin to take up the goalkeeping position. While the move gradually assisted in restricting the Roses, it also limited the Gems’ scoring chances across the last two quarters.  

Faye Agard, captain of the Bajan Gems took heart from her team’s performance heading into their second game against Scotland tomorrow at 9:00am Jamaica time.

“We know we had some really good passages of play, but we also had a lot of unforced errors that we need to work on. So, we know what we need to do, go back to the drawing board and fix some things for the next game,” Agard said.

Lauren James’ first-half strike ensured England made it two wins from two at the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Denmark.

Although the Lionesses are currently top of Group D, there is still plenty to play for in the group after a dramatic second half saw China beat Haiti 1-0 in the late kick-off.

Elsewhere Argentina salvaged a draw against South Africa with two late goals in Group G.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at today’s World Cup action.

Two in two for England

James’ stunning sixth-minute strike gave the Lionesses a vital three points to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, but victory was overshadowed by an injury to Keira Walsh.

She was carried off the pitch on a stretcher after sustaining an apparent knee injury, immediately flagging to the bench that she needed to be taken off.

The severity of Walsh’s injury is a major worry for the rest of England’s campaign, with Sarina Wiegman’s side due to face China in the final group match.

When asked about the extent of Walsh’s injury post-match, the Lionesses boss said: “Of course I’m concerned because she couldn’t walk off the pitch.

“But we don’t know yet, so we can’t take any assumptions. Let’s just wait until we really have a diagnosis and then we can tell you.”

China comeback

China go into the final game with everything to play for after staging an incredible comeback to beat Haiti.

The Steel Roses were reduced to 10 in the first half when Zhang Rui was sent off for a dangerous knee-high challenge on Sherly Jeudy.

Haiti were unable to capitalise on their player advantage, and it proved costly when China were awarded a penalty which Wang Shuang tucked home.

The result means Group D is still wide open going into the final round of fixtures, with Haiti up against Denmark in their last match.

Argentina keep their World Cup alive

Late goals also kept Argentina’s faint World Cup hopes alive with a draw against South Africa in Group G.

Linda Motlhalo put South Africa ahead and Thembi Kgatlana doubled their lead in the second half.

However, Argentina mounted a dramatic comeback to salvage a point with Sophia Braun’s stunning shot pulling one back before Romina Nunez equalised with a header.

Both sides are tied on one point each after two games, while either Italy or Sweden could reach the knock-outs on Saturday with a win against each other.

Up next

Group G: Sweden v Italy (8:30am, Wellington)
Group F: France v Brazil (11am, Brisbane)
Group F: Panama v Jamaica (1:30pm, Perth)
All times BST.

They may be three Caribbean Islands with different cultures and different styles of play. But what Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados all have in common, is their unflinching desire to leave an indelible mark at the Vitality Netball World Cup.

All three teams will bow into action in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday with Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls up against Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Girls squaring off against reigning champions New Zealand, while Barbados Gems, are up against England’s Roses.

The number 10-ranked Calypso Girls will be the first in action at 3:00am Jamaica time, with number two-ranked Silver Ferns expected to prove a handful for the Joel “Twiggy” Young-Strong-coached team.

And while Trinidad and Tobago boast the legacy of being the only other team to win the World Cup title, along with New Zealand and Australia in the tournament’s long history, captain Shaquanda Green-Noel is realistic about their expectations.

“I think we are very honest and realistic with what may be the end result of the game, so even though we are extremely competitive, we are just going in thinking about the small wins in terms of reducing the margin.

“The mood in the camp is a bit of excitement and nervousness, the senior players are more the ones excited to get on the court because the Netball World Cup is one of the biggest platforms to showcase our talent. The young players are a tad bit nervous, but also excited to make their Netball World Cup debut,” Green-Noel told Sportsmax.tv.

“The girls are also very prepared for what is to come, New Zealand are defending champions and we would have done research on what they have to offer and how they play, and I think it (this game) is a great way for us to test out the skills we worked on coming into the World Cup. The last time we played New Zealand, I don’t think we had a very good game, so this is a chance to improve,” she added.

Uganda and Singapore are the other two teams the Calypso Girls will face in Pool D.

Jamaica, the highest ranked Caribbean team at number four, are out to end their 16-year medal drought at the Netball World Cup, dating back to 2007, when the last won one of their three bronze medals. 

They will enter their opening Pool C contest against 15th-ranked Sri Lanka as overwhelming favourites, especially on the back of their historic silver medal-winning performance at the Commonwealth Games last year.

Still, Sunshine Girls Head coach Connie Francis is not taking their opponents lightly, as she is well aware that it will require proper execution from her team to get the job done.

Match time is 11:00 am Jamaica time.

“The ladies are mentally and physically prepared and they want to do something special at this tournament which is to win a medal. But we don’t know much about the Sri Lankans and so we don’t intend to take them lightly,” said Francis.

Though the off-court security issue in which captain Jhaniele Fowler was robbed, is cause for concern, Francis pointed out that the team remains focused on the task at hand.

“Yes, it is bad and very disappointing that has happened on a stage like this, but the ladies remain focused on what they came here to do, which is to execute well and win a medal and that starts with tomorrow’s game,” she noted.

The Sunshine Girls will also have Wales and the host nation to contend with in Pool C.

Meanwhile, number 13-ranked Barbados Gems, have drawn a tough Pool B in which they have England, Malawi and Scotland to deal with.

They open against the number three-ranked Roses at 1:00pm Jamaica time.

While getting by the Roses will take some doing, the Gems are by no means expected to play dead, especially with the addition of sisters Kadeen and Sasha Corbin, who both switched allegiance from England to represent Barbados.

Number one ranked Australia, Zimbabwe, Fiji and Tonga will contest Pool A.

Ireland crashed out of the Women’s World Cup after Canada came from behind to beat them 2-1 on Wednesday.

Spain and Japan reached the last 16 with a game to spare.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of Wednesday’s action.

Spain cruise into last 16

Jenni Hermoso and Alba Redondo scored twice as Spain thumped Zambia 5-0 to reach the last 16.

One of the tournament favourites made the knockout stages with a game to spare having already beaten Costa Rica in their first match.

Teresa Abelleira opened the scoring before Hermoso and Redondo took charge as Spain eased to victory.

Japan ease past Costa Rica

Japan also qualified for the last 16 with a routine win over Costa Rica.

Quickfire first-half goals from Hikaru Naomoto and Aoba Fujino saw the 2011 champions through.

Japan and Spain will battle it out for top spot in their final Group C game when they face each other on Monday.

Canada fight back to break Irish hearts

Ireland bowed out of the tournament after Canada came from behind to win in Group B.

Captain Katie McCabe gave Ireland the lead when she scored straight from a corner after just four minutes.

Megan Connolly’s own goal levelled just before half-time and Adriana Leon grabbed Canada’s winner eight minutes after the break.

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Up next

Group E: USA v Netherlands (2am, Wellington Regional Stadium)
Group E: Portugal v Vietnam (830am, Waikato Stadium)
Group B: Australia v Nigeria (11am, Brisbane Stadium)

Debutants Philippines stunned co-hosts New Zealand to claim their first World Cup victory.

Norway’s hopes are in the balance after their draw with Switzerland while Colombia cruised past South Korea.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of Tuesday’s action.

Philippines pull off shock result

Sarina Bolden’s first-half winner made World Cup history as the Philippines grabbed their first-ever win after beating New Zealand 1-0 in Group A. Bolden’s 24th-minute header was the difference as the co-hosts wasted their chance to build on their opening win over Norway with Jacqui Hand hitting the post and having a goal disallowed. The Philippines struck midway through the first half when Bolden headed past Victoria Esson from close range.

Norway off the boil

Norway’s World Cup hopes hang by a thread after a stalemate with Switzerland. Norway, who were stunned by New Zealand in their opener, lost star forward Ada Hegerberg to injury just before kick-off. Swiss goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann kept them out and Norway will now need to beat Philippines and hope results elsewhere go their way to avoid an early exit.

Colombia kick off with win

Colombia brushed aside South Korea 2-0 in their Group H game in Sydney. Catalina Usme – Colombia’s all-time top scorer – broke the deadlock from the spot after Shim Seo-Yeon’s handball. Real Madrid’s 18-year-old Linda Caicedo doubled the lead soon after with her shot slipping past Yoon Young-Geul in the Korea goal.

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Group B: Canada v Republic of Ireland (7am, Perth Rectangular Stadium)
Group C: Japan v Costa Rica (6am, Dunedin Stadium)
Group C: Spain v Zambia (8.30am, Eden Park)

Jamaica's assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says the senior Reggae Girlz are well aware of the importance of focusing on the task at hand, instead of overdosing on the high of earning their first ever Fifa Women's World Cup point.

Though their historic goalless draw against one of the tournaments favourite and fifth-ranked France is worth celebrating, Gilbert pointed out that the players required no reminders about their main objective at the tournament being co-hosted in Australia and New Zealand --to progress beyond the group stages.

In fact, the assistant to Head coach Lorne Donaldson emphasized that the focus shifted to their upcoming game against Panama, soon after they departed the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday, where the 43rd-ranked Girlz gritty performance delighted a crowd of almost 40,000.

"I think we did well, we had our game plan against France and the Girlz executed, not perfectly, but well enough to earn us a point in an atmosphere that almost felt like Jamaica's National Stadium. The crowd was really behind us and supported us and for that we are happy, even moreso, to get on the board where the point is concerned, but it's unto the next game," Gilbert told SportsMax.tv.

"It (the point) is huge, and it no doubt ranks high on the list of the country's accomplishments among male or female teams, but more importantly, it puts us in good stead for the rest of the tournament and the players know that. So, while they basked in the achievement, they remain focus on the job at hand and know the level of work they have to put in to earn it," he added.

The Girlz have now been subjected to much higher expectations than they usually entertain with many pundits now believing they can pull off what initially seemed an impossible task of getting out Group F which also includes number eight-ranked Brazil.

That hype and confidence behind the team has reached a level where the Girlz commanded the media spotlight for the past two days and even earned the respect of many, who would have probably scoffed at their ambitions in the buildup to this, their second appearance global showpiece, following three losses on debut in France 2019.

Still, Gilbert reiterated that the players are aware that the off-field hype isn't enough to carry the team and it is only through consistent efficiency in their performances against more top-quality teams that will truly prove them worthy.

"I'm sure the other teams will start to respect us now, we had objectives that we want to achieve so the strength of the first game performance would have increased the confidence level in the Girlz ability and what they can achieve in the tournament," he said.

"But we haven’t won anything yet, so obviously there’s a lot of expectations, but we still feel like the underdogs, and we still have a lot of work to do as we keep building towards a sustainable and competitive women’s football programme," Gilbert noted.

With Brazil currently at the top of the group on three points, the Jamaicans, who are joint second on a point with France, will be hoping to assert their authority against 52nd-ranked Concacaf rivals Panama, who are without a point, after a 0-4 loss to the Brazilians.

Though the Reggae Girlz setup has improved significantly where player quality is concerned, since that famous October 17, 2018, penalty shootout victory against the Panamanians, which secured their first World Cup berth, Gilbert said they will by no means grandstand against their rivals come Saturday at the Perth Rectangular Stadium, especially without inspirational captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw.

The prolific striker picked up two yellow cards I that opening contest against France. Efforts have since been made to have the second caution that led to the suspension, overturned, but it is left to be seen what will transpire.

For now, Gilbert explained that they are proceeding accordingly.

"It's a huge disappointment both for her [Bunny] and the team that she will miss the next game, but the ladies are professional, they know what is at stake, they understand what to do and again it's just about the belief in their own ability to get the job done without Bunny.

"So we are preparing for the next game in that vein because we don't underestimate any team. So as soon as we got the Girlz recovered, it was back to business because we have to take care of business come Saturday," Gilbert ended.


Rachel Daly admits it was difficult for her to have been benched in favour of Alessia Russo for England’s World Cup opener against Haiti on Saturday.

Georgia Stanway’s retaken penalty secured the Lionesses a nervy 1-0 victory at Brisbane Stadium to begin their quest for a maiden World Cup, but they have not scored in open play since Ella Toone netted against Brazil in April’s Finalissima at Wembley.

The Russo-or-Daly dilemma was a much-debated topic ahead of the 2023 finals, with Tottenham’s Beth England also amongst boss Sarina Wiegman’s attacking options.

Asked how she felt about her manager’s decision, Daly said: “I think anyone would be (frustrated). No one is happy to sit on the bench. If you are, then you are not in the right place, not in the right career.

“It’s a tough place for Sarina to be, to pick the team. I respect her decisions and I will support Alessia all the way and obviously I know Beth will do the same.”

Versatile Daly started at left-back for every game of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022-winning run last summer, but has always played as a striker at club level and was selected as a forward for this tournament.

The Harrogate native’s 22 goals for Aston Villa in the 2022-23 Women’s Super League season were enough to secure her the Golden Boot, while she also finished joint first for penalties converted with three.

England was the WSL’s third-best scorer with 14, while Russo was joint fifth on 10 with Manchester United team-mate Leah Galton.

Saturday’s Group D contest, against a Haiti side 49 places below the FIFA world number four-ranked Lionesses, did not do much to assuage fears about England’s attacking form.

While Daly has full confidence in Wiegman, she did not rule out the possibility of trying to convince her boss to give her a shot in one of England’s two remaining group games against Denmark or China.

Daly, who came on for Russo in the 76th minute on Saturday, said: “I think that’s the beauty of having a competitive squad. I think everybody is digging out for a position. It’s a headache Sarina has to have in multiple positions. I wouldn’t like to be in her shoes, obviously making such big decisions coming into tournaments.

“But she’s a fantastic manager, we respect all of her decisions. It proved tonight that it works, so we are happy.

“I think movement is probably one of my strengths. I just tried to come on and make a nuisance of myself for the defenders, stepping in off the back of Alessia’s big shift. She did brilliantly again, and I’m just ready when I’m called upon.”

The retirements of striker Ellen White and midfielder Jill Scott last summer combined with injuries to Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead meant there were five differences between Wiegman’s line-up on Saturday and her unchanged Euro 2022 starters, while Daly’s position switch also created an opening in the back line.

All that change, Daly speculated, could have factored into why England did not look near their dominant best in a match many expected they would win handily.

She added: “I mean you could put it down to a number of things, but I think we are quite a new side, a relatively new side. We have lost a lot of players through injury, retiring. We are still building, but I don’t think it’s a worry and a concern at the minute. Hopefully, more will come.”

Tiffany Cameron believed the foundation for her to achieve continued success in a longstanding career, hinged on her making another Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance, backed by a new signing.

So, the fact the Canada-born player was overcome with emotions when news came that she made Jamaica’s final squad to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, followed by a new deal with top flight Spanish club Real Betis, is understandable, as everything fell in place as she had hoped.

For the Reggae Girl striker, turned defender, both accomplishments are a testament of her hard work and unwavering determination to ensure she remains prominent on the international and club scene in a career spanning over 10 years.

“When the (World Cup) roster was released, I had a big smile on my face and I did shed a little tear because it has been quite the journey for me. This is my third World Cup, second with Jamaica and I had one with Canada at the youth level, so it is definitely something to really be proud of,” said Cameron, who was also a part of Jamaica’s historic team at the 2019 global showpiece in France.

Cameron’s sense of satisfaction, particularly where the Reggae Girlz are concerned, comes from the fact that it initially seemed like she would have missed out on the final 23, based on the approach Lorne Donaldson and his assistants took.

In fact, versatility was always expected to be a characteristic held in high regard by the coaching staff in making their selections and Cameron, recognizing that much, paraded her immense potential by assuming a role as a right full back.

It is that show of versatility that propelled her above others.

Prior to the Cup of Nations tournament, the 31-year-old did not get many minutes, until she accepted the fact that she would not make the squad as an attacker.

Despite logging over 14 goals and more than 10 assists in over 15 games for her previous club FC Gyor in the Hungarian top-flight league, Cameron, who could be considered an important leader in the Reggae Girlz group, embraced change and made the right full back position her comfort zone.

"I’m glad I defeated the odds. It just proves what I’m willing to do to represent Jamaica. I’ll play anywhere needed. Yes, I love to score goals and play forward, but it’s not all about that,” Cameron declared.

“I think I have really worked hard this year and I have proven that I am a versatile player wherever the national team needs me, I am able to play, and I think that is super important going into the World Cup that we have players that are okay with possibly playing in different positions that is being asked of them,” she added.

That said, Cameron, whose career has taken her to club in various parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world, expressed intentions to continue working extremely hard at improving her craft, as she looks forward to playing a key role in Real Betis’s charge when the Liga F gets under way.

“I’m really looking forward to my new adventure with Real Betis. I love the Spanish football culture as it is predominantly possession based. It’s similar to the style of football in Germany, where I’ve played for two and a half seasons in the top division, so this style of football won’t be foreign to me,” Cameron shared.

She continued: “I enjoy combinational play and possession-based football. I think my best qualities are my speed, my fitness, my versatility, my movement off the ball and my ability to combine with the players around me and create goal scoring opportunities for myself and others.

“I believe that no matter a player’s age they can always improve in all aspects of the game. This will be a good challenge for me and like I’ve proven with Jamaica, I respond well when I’m challenged and is expected to prove why I belong in an environment. I’ve worked hard for everything that I’ve achieved thus far and I’m truly grateful that my efforts have been acknowledged.”

But for now, Cameron’s attention is fully focused on the Reggae Girlz objective which to get out of Group F at the World Cup. They are scheduled to open against fifth-ranked France on Sunday, before engaging Panama on July 29 and Brazil on August 2.

“I think its super important the team bonding off the field, I think we utilized our time well in the respective camps and we are ready and raring to go. The shout outs from Sean Paul, DJ Khalid and others, will also certainly help to fuel us,” the multi-talented player, who also dabbles in music, ended.


England’s Mary Earps has revealed the public high of winning Euro 2022 and being named FIFA women’s goalkeeper of the year resulted in an unwelcome private battle to “feel human again”.

The Manchester United keeper, set to start in the Lionesses’ World Cup opener against Haiti on Saturday, has cemented her place as England’s number one since the arrival of boss Sarina Wiegman, whom Earps often credits for reigniting a career she once thought had ground to a halt.

Though the 30-year-old loved “experiencing almost how the Kardashians live” at FIFAs swanky February awards ceremony in Paris, she was surprised by the corresponding lows in the aftermath.

Earps, speaking from England’s team hotel in Brisbane, said: “I was speaking with Micah Richards and Jamie Carragher, and we were talking about the difference between winning a tournament and then having a disappointing tournament and how different it’s to come back from that. And I was saying for me personally, I felt like that was the hardest thing I ever did.

“Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Not the hardest thing I ever did, but it was the hardest footballing thing to come back to.

“Like you’ve been on this massive high for so long and then you come back to normal life where you are not in this bubble, you’re not living in this little world, you’re not surrounded by people.

“And it’s absolutely a life of privilege, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a lot to adjust to coming back and going back to training every day.

“Not at that intensity, not at that pressure, but also with that comes an incredible adrenaline rush. And not having that every day, it was hard to find your feet as to what normal felt like. And it probably took me till after December to feel human again.

“And then obviously the FIFA Best came and I felt like I had to start all over again.

“It’s a privilege to be in that situation and a problem that I would love to have every single year, but it was definitely hard to adjust.”

England vice-captain Earps may need to repeat that process again should the Lionesses, among the tournament favourites, lift the trophy that has eluded them in five previous World Cup appearances.

At the beginning of 2021, Earps was on the verge of quitting football altogether. Her contract at United was coming to an end and she had not featured for England since November 2019.

Yet Wiegman saw something in Earps when she took the reins in September 2021 and recalled the Nottingham native and 2019 World Cup veteran as part of her first selected squad, handing her a fresh start in England’s 8-0 victory over North Macedonia to begin the World Cup qualifiers.

Earps, who was also offered a new deal with United, has seized the opportunity with both gloves ever since and was instrumental in ensuring four of the Lionesses’ six matches in their unbeaten run to lift the Euro 2022 trophy were clean-sheet victories.

Perhaps Earps’ path is most aptly illustrated by her journey to and from the FIFA awards, where she had a personal security guard named Johnny and the “surreal” experience of discussing the finer points of goalkeeping with Argentinian World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez and Arsene Wenger.

Earps took EasyJet on the way there, but flew business class on the way back, where she was closer to the front than she had ever been in her life.

Yet before the Golden Gloves, the first-class keeper was determined to elevate England to new heights.

She added: “I always thought it was there. I didn’t think that it would burn as deeply as it’s burning. It’s like a fire in your belly that I’ve always had. But I think you’re always trying to achieve things that you don’t know if it’s going to be possible.

“You’re like, that’s what you’re striving for, you’re striving for this excellence and you’re constantly on this pursuit of, ‘How far can I go? How high can I go?’

“And to actually achieve those things just makes me want to fill my cabinet with even more trophies and medals really. It doesn’t make me feel like, ‘Job done’, which I thought that it would. It makes me just want to do more, do better.”

Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand kicked off the World Cup with victories on the opening day of the tournament.

The pair bring with them very different sets of expectations, with the Matildas amongst the favourites for the crown whilst the Football Ferns came seeking a first win on the world stage.

However, the day was overshadowed by the deadly shooting in Auckland, with a minute’s silence in memory of those killed held ahead of both matches.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the drama that unfolded as the World Cup finally got under way.

New Zealand stun Norway

Expectations for 1995 champions Norway are not what they once were, particularly in the wake of a group stage exit at Euro 2022 and an 8-0 mauling at the hands of England, but few anticipated them to fall to New Zealand at Eden Park.

But Jitka Klimkova’s underdogs delivered a memorable curtain raiser thanks to Hannah Wilkinson’s 48th-minute goal in front of more than 42,000 ecstatic supporters, a record for a football match in the country

It was the team’s 16th attempt at winning a match at the finals and could have been made sweeter had Ria Percival not struck a post from the penalty spot late on after handball was given against Tuva Hansen.

“The expectations, we will put those on ourselves first,” said goalscorer Wilkinson. “We’ll take momentum from this first win into the next game.

“It’s incredibly important that we secure a space outside of this group and we can do that in this next game.”

Battling display from Irish debutants

The Matildas were expected to have an easier ride than their co-hosts, but Ireland were in no mood to offer safe passage towards three points on their World Cup debut in Sydney.

It took a second-half penalty from Steph Catley to see off Vera Pauw’s newcomers, after Marissa Sheva shoved Hayley Raso to the ground.

Australia were missing Sam Kerr with the Chelsea forward also set to be absent for the next game against Nigeria, and struggled to break down the Republic during a first half of few chances.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw said: “Sam Kerr is of course one of, if not the top striker in the world so the fact that she did not play was a surprise for us but Australia have so many fast and attacking players that our game plan did not change because of that.”

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Group B: Nigeria v Canada (3.30am, Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne)

Group A: Philippines v Switzerland (6am, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

Group C: Spain v Costa Rica (8.30am, Regional Stadium, Wellington)

Boss Jitka Klimkova revealed all remained calm in advance of New Zealand’s 1-0 victory over Norway which opened the Women’s World Cup in Auckland, where a fatal shooting took place on Thursday morning.

The incident, which occurred in the city’s central business district close to Norway’s team hotel, resulted in three deaths – including that of the suspected gunman – with more wounded in what New Zealand Police characterised as an “isolated incident” and “not a national security risk”.

FIFA said a decision was taken to proceed with the match as planned after consulting with New Zealand authorities and the participating teams, who observed a moment of silence for the victims before the tournament kicked off at Eden Park.

The Football Ferns opened their campaign in style as Hannah Wilkinson’s second-half goal was enough to set the pace in Group A.

Klimkova said: “The players today were more preparing for themselves and it was pretty relaxed, but we still gave them the option to speak to the staff to get clarity but I believe the clarity was there, so they were more focussing on their individual preparation.”

FIFA also issued a statement before kick-off assuring they had no safety concerns for the rest of the tournament, which will see England open their campaign against Haiti on Saturday and conclude with the August 20 final at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “We appreciate the collaboration with the New Zealand authorities from the earliest moment of this tragic incident.

“We have been involved in ongoing communication from the outset, and we have also received the necessary reassurances from Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson in relation to the safety and security of the participating teams and fans at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.

“FIFA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have been injured in this tragic incident.”

Robertson echoed Infantino’s assurances, saying: “This incident is in no way related to the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament and there are no national security concerns. We have provided the necessary assurances about the security of the tournament to FIFA’s leadership this afternoon.

“There is a comprehensive security plan around our hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and we will continue to work with the police who have been part of an operational planning group for the tournament, and as such, have plans in place and were well placed to deal with this morning’s incident.”

An earlier statement from football’s global governing body said FIFA was “in constant contact” with the teams involved and they are “being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place”.

Norway’s team hotel is located around 400 metres from where the shooting took place, but a team spokesperson told the PA news agency before the match that everything was calm in the Norwegian squad and preparations for the match were proceeding as normal.

Captain Maren Mjelde said in a statement: “Being informed about the consequences, the Norwegian team’s thoughts are with those affected and their families.

“Everyone probably woke up quite quickly when the helicopter hovered outside our hotel window and a large number of emergency vehicles arrived.

“At first we didn’t know what was going on, but eventually there were updates on TV and the local media. We felt safe the whole time. FIFA has a good security system at the hotel and we have our own security officer in the squad.

“Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight, then we may have to adapt if there are any instructions from the authorities.”

Jamaica Team Guide

July 19, 2023

Jamaica's Reggae Girlz takes the spotlight in our Fifa Women's World Cup build-up feature today. The Jamaicans will be making a second-consecutive appearance at the global showpiece set to get under way on July 20 and end August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.


They are no longer the only Caribbean team to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, but Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz will be the first from the region to make a second-consecutive appearance at the finals. Ranked No 43 in the world, they are a much more formidable group than that of 2019 and the squad features several US- and England-born players with Jamaican heritage that were not a part of the team which made a historic appearance in France.

The squad is similar to the one that competed in the qualifiers, winning all but two games – a 5-0 group stage loss to the United States and a 3-0 semi-final loss to Canada – at the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico. During that tournament, Jamaica registered a 1-0 win over the host nation and also bettered Haiti 4-0 and Costa Rica 1-0 on their way to a third-place finish.

In total, the Jamaicans scored 30 goals and conceded 10 between the first phase of qualifying and the Concacaf championship and were again led by the talismanic striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, who ended the qualifiers with 12 goals.

Since then, the head coach Lorne Donaldson has brought in a few young prospects in 19-year-old goalkeeper Liya Brooks, 18-year-old Solai Washington, 19-year-old Kameron Simmonds and 22-year-old Peyton McNamara, all of whom impressed in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Jamaica have always banked on their speed and athleticism to open up opposing defences, particularly from the wide areas and it will certainly be more of the same in Australia and New Zealand, especially with the addition of fleet-footed players Washington, Simmonds and Kalyssa van Zanten, who can be lethal from the bench.

Still, Shaw, as always, will be the focal point in the attack and, much like she did at the 2019 showpiece when she assisted Havana Solaun to score a historic first goal against Australia, she could make a difference against their more illustrious Group F opponents if is she is able to get on the ball close enough to goal.

The defence has not always been the team’s strong point and while Donaldson and his assistants have done their best to beef up the backline, it basically remains the same as that of 2019, with the exception of Tottenham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and right-back Tiernny Wiltshire. Strong performances can be expected from the former captain Konya Plummer, who recently returned from maternity leave, but is looking raring to go. Much is also expected of her fellow defender Allyson Swaby, who is strong in the air and resolute on the ground.

Without doubt Jamaica remain one of the biggest underdogs at the World Cup, but they are certainly not going to the tournament accepting defeat, especially with the 2019 experience now under their belts.

The coach

Lorne Donaldson was born and raised in Jamaica where he started his playing career at Kingston College and Cavalier FC, before moving to the United States where he entered Metropolitan State University of Denver (he was inducted into MSU Denver’s Hall of Fame in 1995). He went on to play for the Denver Kickers, where he won the 1983 National Amateur Cup, and Jamaica.

He later started his coaching career as an assistant at Metro State Roadrunners in 1983 and has not looked back since, managing Colorado Foxes, Colorado Rapids and Real Colorado Foxes, along the way. 

Donaldson was introduced to the national women’s programme on the recommendation of ambassador for Jamaican women’s football Cedella Marley in 2014, along with previous head coach Hue Menzies and the two guided the Reggae Girlz to their historic qualification in 2019.

Both later left the programme for various reasons that involved the Jamaica Football Federation, but Donaldson expressed a willingness to return provided the conditions were different.

In July last year, he replaced Vinimore “Vin” Blaine at the helm, a few weeks ahead of the crucial Concacaf Championship, after the players released a letter expressing dissatisfaction with Blaine’s leadership.

Star player

The Guardian’s first female Footballer of the Year in 2018, the first player from the Caribbean to win the Concacaf Player of the Year Award in 2022, and Jamaica’s all-time leading scorer with 56 goals, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw’s career is one of bumps, bruises and of course, tremendous success.

The 6ft striker’s physicality and speed of thought had set her up for a dazzling career from a young age – aged 14 she played for Jamaica’s under-15, under-17 and under-20 teams. She made her debut for the senior side on 23 August 2015, scoring once in a 6-0 win over the Dominican Republic. She has lost siblings to violence and accidents but used those tragedies to fuel her passion for football.

During the 2019 World Cup in France, Shaw signed a two-year contract with FC Bordeaux and ended her second league season with 22 goals and seven assists in 20 matches, winning the top goalscorer award. She then joined Manchester City where the now 26-year-old continues to show her class, scoring 31 goals in 30 games last season and being named the club's player of the year.

Rising star

At 18 years old, the US-born midfielder Solai Washington is the youngest member of the squad and is one of the up-and-coming players to look out for at the World Cup. Still in high school going into her senior year, Washington first joined the setup at a camp in Florida this year and hasn’t looked back. She possesses great ability and works hard on and off the ball in a manner that belies her age.

Did you know?

Thirteen of Jamaica’s 23-member squad will be making their first World Cup appearances. That number includes the five England-born players – Rebecca Spencer, Vyan Sampson, Atlanta Primus, Drew Spence and Paige Bailey-Gayle. Also of note is that Cheyna Matthews, like she did in 2019, has returned shortly after giving birth to make the World Cup squad.

Standing of women’s football in Jamaica

Women’s football in Jamaica came to life in 1991 when the Reggae Girlz played their first international match against Haiti, losing 1-0. Since then, they have become one of the top teams in the region, and currently boast their second highest ever Fifa ranking at 43. They achieved their highest ever ranking at 42 last year.

There have been bumps on the road, however, and in 2010 the women’s programme as well as the women’s Olympic programme were disbanded by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). At that point, they were at their lowest ranking of 128 but the country was later removed from Fifa’s world rankings after three years of inactivity.

The programme was restarted in 2014 with the support of Cedella Marley, the daughter of the late Bob Marley. Marley’s robust fundraising efforts eventually helped the Reggae Girlz achieve their historic World Cup qualification.

Realistic goal at the World Cup

While it seems a daunting task for Jamaica to get out of Group F and into the last 16, they are expected to prove more competitive than they did in 2019 and the collective goal is to at least take points off one of France or Brazil. If they can do that, confidence is high that they will get the better of Panama in their final group game. So, the realistic aim for the team known for its stubborn determination and passion is to prove their doubters wrong by getting beyond the group stage.


England’s players have expressed their disappointment at talks with the Football Association over their bonus and commercial structures not being resolved before the start of the World Cup.

In a statement from the team posted on social media by captain Millie Bright, the Lionesses said they would “pause discussions, with full intentions of revisiting them following the tournament”.

The European champions’ campaign at the showpiece in Australia and New Zealand gets under way on Saturday when they face Haiti in Brisbane.

The statement said: “Last year we presented the FA with concerns relating to our bonus and commercial structures. The hope was that discussions would lead to a solution before the commencement of our World Cup.

“We are disappointed that a resolution has still not been achieved.

“We view the successful conclusion of these discussions, through player input and a transparent long term plan, as key for the growth of women’s football in England.

“With our opening game on the horizon, we Lionesses have decided to pause discussions, with full intentions of revisiting them following the tournament.

“We collectively feel a strong sense of responsibility to grow the game. And while our focus now switches fully to the tournament ahead, we believe every tackle, pass and goal will contribute to the work we are committed to doing off the pitch.

“We look forward to playing for our country (at) this World Cup, with pride, passion and perseverance.”

Last month FIFA announced a new financial distribution model to apply to this summer’s tournament.

Under that model, players will be guaranteed performance-related remuneration directly from FIFA, with amounts increasing the deeper teams go in the tournament, ranging from 30,000 US dollars (£23,000) per athlete for the group stage to USD 270,000 (£206,000) allotted to each champion.

Previously, it was up to individual national governing bodies to decide how money was allocated, with some still agreeing to fund additional payments in 2023 beyond the new deal.

England players were understood to have been left disappointed by the fact the FA was not following the lead of the Australian and American federations – where collective bargaining agreements are in place – in paying bonuses on top of the prize money being paid to players direct by FIFA.

Players were also understood to be frustrated over a lack of clarity over what their cut from any commercial deals done by the FA linked to the Lionesses will be, as well as the restrictions around their personal sponsorships.

The Professional Footballers’ Association released a statement from its chief executive Maheta Molango, who said: “Although the issues the Lionesses have highlighted are specific to the negotiations with the FA, they join players from a number of countries at the World Cup who are prepared to make a stand when they don’t think they are being listened to.

“It’s a massive mistake to underestimate the genuine strength of player feeling on these issues.

“It’s no coincidence that this is a particular issue for nations where there is no proper collective bargaining agreement in place between players and governing bodies.

“These longer-term agreements require negotiation and will nearly always involve difficult conversations. But when they are completed, they ensure a far higher degree of stability and security.

“They mean that everyone knows where they stand, and that’s obviously a massive advantage going into major tournaments when players just want to be focused on the football.

“The PFA’s view has always been that player rights and conditions should be addressed proactively and viewed as a partnership.

“There will always be consequences when players feel they are having to come back issue by issue to push for parity and progress. It doesn’t need to be like this.”

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